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Lockheed P-38 Lightning


Originally designed as a high-altitude interceptor, the P-38 proved very versatile and went on to become one of the most famous aircraft of all time. The Air Corps was so impressed with the XP-38 in its early trials that on February 11, 1939, even though the prototype had less than five hours of flight time, 1st Lt. Benjamin S. Kelsey tried to break the transcontinental speed record, but he crashed on approach to Mitchel Field, N. Y. Despite this setback, ground speeds of 420 mph and an elapsed time of only seven hours convinced the Air Corps to order the type into production. Britain ordered 667 P-38s, which it nicknamed "Lightning," but only three P-38s were delivered. The rest (and the nickname) were absorbed by the US.
After some developmental troubles, the P-38 entered US service in 1941 and served in every theater of the war. 2d Lt. Elza Shahan, flying a P-38F, recorded the first American victory in the European theater of operations when he and a P-40 pilot downed a Focke-Wulf FW-200 near Iceland on August 14, 1942. The P-38 saw extensive service in North Africa, where the Germans called the aircraft the "Fork-Tailed Devil." On April 18, 1943, P-38 pilots from the 339th Fighter Squadron, using external tanks, flew from Guadalcanal to Bougainville and shot down Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto. The top two American aces of all time, Maj. Richard I. Bong (40 confirmed victories) and Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (38), both flew P-38s in the southwest Pacific. P-38s also were used for photoreconnaissance (these dedicated aircraft were designated F-4 and F-5), bomber, and night fighter. Consolidated-Vultee built 113 P-38Ls in Nashville, Tenn., to meet wartime needs.
The last P-38 was delivered in September 1945, and the type was phased out of service in 1949.
General characteristics P-38F
Primary function Long range fighter
Contractor Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power plant One Allison V-1710-111 and one Allison V-1710-113 (the different engine submodels turned the P-38's propellers in opposite directions) liquid-cooled V-12s engines
Thrust 2x 1,600 HP 2x 1,193 kW
Wingspan 52 ft 15.85 m
Length 37.8 ft 11.53 m
Height 12.8 ft 3.91 m
Wingarea 328.3 sq ft 30.5 sq m
Weight empty 13,012 lb 5,902 kg
max. 15,814 lb 7,173 kg
Max. speed 390 mph 628 km/h
Ceiling 39,042 ft 11,900 m
Max. range 700 miles 1,125 km
Armament 1x 20mm cannon, 4x 12.7mm machine guns
Crew One
First flight January 27, 1939 (XP-38)
Date deployed 1942
 General characteristics P-38J
Primary function Fighter
Power plant One Allison V-1710-111 and one Allison V-1710-113 (the different engine submodels turned the P-38's propellers in opposite directions) liquid-cooled V-12s engines
Wingspan 52 ft 15.85 m
Length 37.8 ft 11.53 m
Height 12.8 ft 3.91 m
Wingarea 328.3 sq ft 30.5 sq m
Weight empty 14,112 lb 6,401 kg
max. 21,620 lb 9,806 kg
Speed 414 mph 666 km/h
Range 1,880 miles 3,025 km
Armament 1x 20mm cannon, 4x 12.7mm machine guns, 2x 726 kg bombs
Crew One
Date deployed 1943
Cost $95,150
Number built 10,038 (all versions)


Jirka Wagner

 

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Last updated 01.01.2017